Snakes and Pills

201 - snare

Little Bobby played with his toy cars in the sandbox under the big tree in his backyard. A gentle breeze rustled through the leaves as he used the small cars to reenact a police chase. The early afternoon sun shone bright, but not so much as to make the boy uncomfortable.

Bobby's mother checked on him from time to time, looking out the window over the kitchen sink. They lived in a relatively safe neighborhood, though, and Bobby was old enough now that he could be trusted to play on his own for a while. Her soaps were on, too.

Not that she would have particularly noticed the squirrel that had emerged from a hole in the tree and slowly crept toward the sandbox. Bobby hadn't noticed the creature himself. The bad guys' car had wrecked, and the police were finally about to catch them.

The squirrel now stood at the wooden edge of the sandbox, staring at the child and watching him play. It tried to remain patient, hoping the boy would notice him. Bobby was so engrossed in his imaginary world, however, that he never diverted his attention from the action.

The squirrel's patience ran out. "Bobby," he cautiously said. The sound came out loud and clear to him, but given the size difference between himself and the human, he failed to get the boy's attention. "Bobby!" he tried again. But Bobby remained undistracted.

"BOBBY!" the squirrel shouted. At last, he got the boy to notice him. Oddly, Bobby was not totally surprised to witness a squirrel capable of speech.

"Are you talking to me?" the boy asked, forgetting his toy cars and edging closer to the animal.

"You see anyone else here named Bobby?" the squirrel answered. Bobby moved in even closer to hear the squirrel clearly.

"I guess not. Who are you?" he asked.

"C'mon kid, you mean my voice isn't familiar?" the squirrel asked. He inhaled deeply and made sure to speak loudly as he recited a line to jog the boy's memory. "Hey! Bobby! Get up here, ya rascal!"

Bobby lit up with excitement. "Grandpa?!"

"That's right, atta boy!" the squirrel replied.

"But Mom and Dad told me that you had gone up to heaven. I even had to go to your funeral. It was really boring. And they told me I'd never get to see you again," Bobby said. Recalling that memory caused sadness to roll across his face.

"Well, obviously, I did die, kid," the squirrel said. But to bring Bobby back from the verge of tears, he quickly continued on, "But I came back as this squirrel, Bobby. Just to see you!"

His cheerful tone seemed to relieve his grandson. "Really?" Bobby asked, still uneasy with thoughts of his dead grandfather.

"Yes, yes, here I am," the squirrel reassured him.

"So, what's heaven like?" Bobby asked.

"Nice place. It's got whatever you want. There are rivers of gold, and Jesus is doing good things all the time, y'know," the squirrel answered flippantly. "Listen, Bobby, I didn't come back just to chat. I actually need you to do something for Grandpa."

"What's that?" Bobby asked.

"You know at my house, upstairs in the nightstand next to—"

The squirrel was interrupted by a shrill shriek coming from the kitchen window. In a flash, Bobby's mother burst forth from the patio door, screaming.

"Bobby! Get away from that horrible thing!" she shouted, quickly arriving at the sandbox and shooing away the squirrel. He scampered off and disappeared back in the tree.

"Those filthy animals can bite you, and most of them carry nasty diseases!" she cautioned her bewildered son.

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